Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Profession against Occupation

CATALOGUE OF OPPRESSION deemed too "political"

AS leaders of the "civilised", "democratic" world meet to admonish Palestinians under occupation for voting the wrong way, and threaten their children will suffer worse deprivation and suffering unless their leaders fall into line, two other meetings in London will confront the realities of occupation.

Horrific events like bombings naturally make headline news. Television viewers in Britain were treated each teatime to the melodrama of the Israeli government's removal of Gaza settlers (now queuing for handsome compensation). So far as I'm aware the joint peaceful demonstrations by Palestinians and Israeli peaceniks at Bil'in have not yet made our TV screens. Palestinians lighting a Chanuka menorah beyond the fence? Not news, it seems. Hamas flags alongside Gush Shalom, peaceful villagers and Tel Aviv anarchists together facing tear gas? Not news.
"Nation shall speak peace unto nation," says the inscription over the BBC world broadcasting centre, Bush House. But when they do, it won't be on telly. Maybe they should make the sign read "George W. Bush House" these days.

But I digress.

What very rarely makes the news or even gets much documentary coverage is the day to day reality of occupation: land grabbing, humiliation at checkpoints, house demolitions, the use of planning, the Wall, and strategically-placed settlements to dominate the land and people. The European Union and British government suppressed their own official Report on East Jerusalem.
(Fortunately, alerted by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, some 40 organisations defied the ban and published the supressed report on their websites - see

Let's hear Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions(ICAHD):

"Restrictions of Palestinian use of their own land and policies of restricting Palestinian housing through zoning, permits and demolition of "illegal" houses are the mechanisms by which Israel maintains its artificial domination over the city. In 1967, the 70 km2 (70,000 dunums) labeled "East Jerusalem" were added to the 38 km2 of "West" Jerusalem, tripling the size of the city. Almost immediately Israel expropriated 35% of Palestinian land in order to build massive housing complexes (Ramat Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Rekhes Shu'afat, Pisgat Ze'ev, Neveh Yaakov, East Talpiot, Har Homa and Gilo, not to mention large areas in the Old City), exclusively for Jews. Indeed, while about 85,000 housing units have been built for Jews since 1967 in East Jerusalem, only 9,000 housing units have been approved for Palestinians, and all of those built with private funds rather than by government companies or with government subsidies. What's more, another 54% of Palestinian land has been declared "open green space," making it illegal for Palestinians to build on it. This means that only 11% of East Jerusalem land (just 7% of the total municipal area) is available to the third of the population that is Palestinian. Palestinian housing today is inadequate, over-crowded and confined to small parts of the city; the Municipality itself admits that 25,000 units of housing are lacking in the Arab sector; yet 2000 demolition orders are outstanding, affecting some 6000 families. Israel's policy in the eastern part of the "united" city is clear: to confine Palestinians to constricted ghettos (encouraging those who desire a better life to leave the country altogether); to ensure Israeli domination through the massive construction of an "inner ring" of settlements in the eastern part of the city; and to prevent a meaningful Palestinian political presence in the city

Architects and planners are in the front line of this:
"They want to say that architecture has nothing to do with politics, but architects and planners have always been the executive arms of the Israeli state, erasing the old cartography and trying to create their own on top of it."
Eyal Weizman, one of the creators ofA Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture

At the end of July 2002, in the same week that an Israeli US-made F16 dropped 1,000 pounds of laser-guided explosives on the Al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City, a different kind of explosion shook the supposedly quiet world of architecture. The catalogue for an entry by the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) to the World Congress of Architecture in Berlin was suppressed by the leadership of the architects association. They said the ideas in the catalogue were "not architecture" and that it would damage Israel's image abroad by presenting "an anti-Israeli, one-sided presentation."

Created by Israeli architects Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman, the catalogue, A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture , detailed how Israeli architecture and urban planning had been involved in the take-over of Palestinian land, from 1948 when the state was established to the settlements now dominating the hillsides of the West Bank. In a foreword note, Weizman and Segal said they would show how "the mundane elements of planning and architecture have been conscripted as tactical tools in the Israeli state-strategy."

Weizman and Segal had been chosen by the IAUA to prepare its official entry in the Berlin congress, but when the catalogue appeared, IAUA president Uri Zerubavel, and 15 out of 20 council members, moved to suppress it; they confiscated most of the 5,000 copies and pulled the exhibition out of Berlin. Uri Zerubavel himself has refused offers to design Israeli settlements in the West Bank, for "private political reasons", but he drew back from advertising this issue for an international exhibition.

Weizman and Segal managed to rescue about 850 copies of A Civilian Occupation, and the publisher, Babel Publications, decided to publish and distribute it internationally. One of the architectural editors for Babel noted that the catalog typified a "moral dilemma facing all architects." "Some who work for big corporations or large real estate operators create things just as monstrous as the architecture of the occupied territories," he said. "The catalog makes us think about the political dimension of all architecture."
(the book was published in the UK by Verso, see:

Jeff Halper, who has taught at Haifa and Ben Gurion Universities, describes himself as a "engaged anthropologist", and is co-ordinatoor the ICAHD. He is speaking at St.Mary's College in Twickenham on Friday February 17, 5-7.30pm, on "A New Apartheid Regime or Peace? Israel/Palestine after the March 2006 Election". Dr Nur Masalha, from Galilee, will be in the chair. It's in lecture theatre G7, St Mary's College Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4SX

How to reach St Mary's College? For directions by car and public Transport, see www.smuc.ac.uk/about/location.html

But before this, a group of professionals concerned with their responsibility are meeting in London tomorrow evening, Thursday, February 2, to launch Architects and Planners for Justice'. The idea and invitations have come from Abe Hayeem, an Indian-born Jewish peace activist and professional architect, and Orna Neuman, an Israeli designer.

The meeting is at the offices of the Richard Rogers Partnership, Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6., from 7-9pm . Robert Bevan, author of "The Destruction of Memory -Architecture at War", will be introducing the issues that the book highlights, and there'll be time for questions and discussion.

If any architects, planners or others interested want to come, or get in touch, you can RSVP

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The games that governments play. How Israel and US helped create Hamas

Israeli occupation forces connived at assault on progressive students

(for info. about an-Najah University today visit:

As Israel and the United States have to be dragged grudgingly to face reality and the need to talk with Hamas, should we rub their noses in some messy facts that they left along this passage in the past?

Well, why not? Sweeping history under the carpet is unhygienic, and leaves our rulers far too free to sanctify their latest dirty moves as some moral crusade. As in Orwell's 1984 , we're supposed to erase our memories and join the chorus of hate against whoever is designated the current eternal foe. Raising questions might weaken resolve, and faith that those responsible are fit to be in charge.

In 1986, I visited Nablus, near the Biblical Shechem. Our party met mayor Bassam al-Shaka, who had lost both legs in a Zionist settler terror bomb attack. We saw the Israeli occupiers' rooftop watchpoints. Nablus has a history of modern national struggle, beginning under Ottoman rule. (Further back, the Tel al-Amarna letters carry the Pharaoh's complaint that the king of Shechem had sheltered guerrilla raiders from the east). Besides ancient sites we saw its busy market, workshops, and the growing an-Najah university.

Later I was sorry to read that Islamists had muscled in to take over the student union at an-Najah. They were said to have bussed in supporters from out of town to intimidate and beat opponents. That was interesting. Even then, as left-wing students said, it was hard for them to move anywhere in the occupied territories without being stopped by the Israelis. It seemed someone had waved the barriers aside this time.

Since those days, Hamas has gained much bigger popular support, thanks not only to its militant side, but to its ability to provide some health and social welfare facilities to a population suffering economic strangulation and unemployment, and disillusioned by a "peace process" which thanks to Israeli and US duplicity, delivered little beyond benefitting a few corrupt individuals.

But it is just as well to be reminded by this interview below, from the US Democracy Now site, that relations between US and Israeli policy-makers and Islamicists have been better. It should not only expose the nonsense from our leaders, but remind us on the Left too to take a long-term view and be more skeptical about some supposed allies. Whatever the current conflicts, "My enemy's enemy" is not necessarily my friend, he was my enemy's ally yesterday, and could be my enemy tomorrow.

Democracy Now January 26th, 2006

How Israel and the United States helped to bolster Hamas

As Hamas wins an upset victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, we take a look at the little-known rise of the militant group with investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss, author of the new book "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam." In it,Dreyfuss reveals how the U.S. looked the other way when Israel's secret service supported the creation of Hamas.

According to Middle East analyst Dilip Hero, the success of Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections comes as other Islamist groups gaining political strength in the Middle East. Last year Islamist candidates won most of the seats in the municipal elections in Saudi Arabia. In Lebannon, Hizbollah has emerged as the preeminent representative of Lebanese Shiites. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 60% of the seats it contested last year. And in Iraq, religious Shiite and Sunni parties performed best in December parliamentary elections.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. How was Hamas established?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, gosh, you know, you can go back, really 60 or 70 years. The Hamas organization is an outgrowth, really a formal outgrowth, of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a transnational organization founded in Egypt, which established branches in the ‘30s and ‘40s in Jordan and Palestine and Syria and elsewhere. And the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was founded by a man named Said Ramadan, actually the father of Tariq Ramadan, who you mentioned earlier. Said Ramadan was one of the founders of the Brotherhood, who was the son-in-law of its originator, Hassan al-Banna, and he established the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and in Jerusalem in 1945. And it grew rapidly during the ‘40s and was, not surprisingly, a very conservative political Islamic Movement that had a lot of support from the Hashemite royal family of Jordan and from the king of Egypt.

This movement, as it began in the ‘40s and ‘50s, ran up against the emerging tide of Arab nationalism, and really the story of Hamas and the story of the Muslim Brotherhood is a continual battle for the last 50 years between Arab nationalists and the Arab left on one hand, and what I would call the Islamic right on the other hand. So the Hamas movement, as it grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, found itself in the 1960s fighting Arab nationalism in all of these countries, including Egypt. When Fatah was founded in late 1950s and began taking action against Israel in guerilla warfare in the mid-60s, Hamas was -- or the Muslim Brotherhood was strongly opposed to Fatah.

They grew out of the same movement. The Palestinian Fatah organization was founded really out of the League of Palestinian Students, that was a Muslim Brotherhood organization. But the nationalists broke away, and people like Khalil al-Wazir, and Salah Khalaf, and Yasser Arafat and the Hassan brothers, who founded Fatah, broke away from the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1950s.And by 1965, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt launched its second attempt to kill Nasser at precisely the same time that Nasser was supporting the Palestinian national movement and Fatah against Israel in the areas surrounding the Israeli borders on the Egyptian front.

So the Egyptian authorities arrested a man and put him in jail in 1965, named Ahmed Yassin. Ahmed Yassin, of course, is the founder of Hamas. He was, in turn -- we'll get to the end of the story -- was killed by Israel a couple of years ago. But in 1965, he was put in jail by the Egyptian authorities. And then, two years later, of course, when Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank and, of course, the Sinai peninsula after the 1967 War, the Israelis released Ahmed Yassin and a number of other Muslim Brotherhood leaders. And starting in 1967, the Israelis began to encourage or allow the Islamists in the Gaza and West Bank areas, among the Palestinian exiled population, to flourish.

The statistics are really quite staggering. In Gaza, for instance, between 1967 and 1987, when Hamas was founded, the number of mosques tripled in Gaza from 200 to 600. And a lot of that came with money flowing from outside Gaza, from wealthy conservative Islamists in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. But, of course, none of this could have happened without the Israelis casting an approving eye upon it. And during these years, during that 20-year span, the Hamas organization was a bitter opponent of Palestinian nationalism, clashed repeatedly with the P.L.O. and with Fatah, of course, refused to participate in the P.L.O. umbrella. And just as during the ‘50s and ‘60s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Nasserists, the Baath Party, the communists and the rest of the Arab left, in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Palestinian national movement.

Now that's not even a surprise, you know. In 1970, when the king of Jordan launched his massive counter-offensive against the Palestinians there in that event called Black September, the Muslim Brotherhood was a strong supporter of the king and actually backed his effort, which resulted in thousands of Palestinians killed in a virtual civil war in Jordan. So there's plenty of evidence that the Israeli intelligence services, especially Shin Bet and the military occupation authorities, encouraged the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founding of Hamas.

There are many examples and incidents of that. But there were armed clashes, of course, on Palestinian university campuses in the ‘70s and ‘80s, where Hamas would attack P.L.O., PFLP, PDFLP and other groups, with clubs and chains. This was before guns became prominent in the Occupied Territories. Even that, however -- there's a very interesting and unexplained incident.

Yassin was arrested in 1983 by the Israelis. On search of his home, they found a large cache of weapons. This would have been a fairly explosive event, but for unexplained reasons, a year later Yassin was quietly released from prison. He said at the time that the guns were being stockpiled not to fight the Israeli occupation authorities, but to fight other Palestinian factions. That and other incidents gave rise to -- a number of diplomats and intelligence people who I interviewed, saying that there was plenty of reason to think that the Israelis were fostering the growth of Hamas. And, of course, Yasser Arafat himself, in a famous quote to a newspaper reporter a number of years ago, explicitly described Hamas as, quote, “a creature of Israel.” And he said that he discussed this with Yitzhak Rabin during their Oslo process. And Rabin told Arafat that it was “a fatal error” for the Israelis to have encouraged the growth of Hamas.

The theory of it, of course, was that Hamas would be a force against Palestinian nationalism. AndI think it's clear that it ended up, to a shocking degree, backfiring against overall Israeli policy.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Robert Dreyfuss, the role of the United States in all of this; obviously, the U.S. -- and many people don't recall -- that in the ‘60s and ‘70s, was not only worried about the P.L.O. itself, but the other groups you mentioned, the Popular Front and the Democratic Popular Front, which were even more radical and leftist groups than Fatah. The role of the United States while Israel was fostering a development of this movement within the Occupied Territories?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, the United States, of course, has had one constant, that it was a major supporter of Israel and considered Israel an ally, so anything that looked like Palestinian nationalism was seen as a threat to Israel, and the United States, as you might expect, like Israel, refused to even discuss or admit the existence, during those early years, of Palestinians as a force or Palestinian nationalism.But, of course, the other big ally of the United States in the Middle East was Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia was the main engine and source of support for the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the entire Middle East. So I don't think there's any question that the United States was happy to see the growth of the Islamic Movement in those early years.

The clearest example of this, and I talk about this at length in my book, is when Nasser finally died in 1970 and Anwar Sadat took over as president of Egypt, he had no political base. And so, Sadat encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood to come back to Egypt, and they did, beginning in 1971. Said Ramadan led a Saudi-supported delegation to meet with Sadat. The Brotherhood came back into Egypt and began to organize, with Sadat's official encouragement, and certainly with the knowledge and support of the United States, a powerful political constituency for the Islamists in Egypt. And they not only created mosques, but took over al-Azhar, the main center ofthe Islamic thought in Cairo and, really, in the world, some people would say, and became a major political and religious presence in Egypt, as well.

Not only that, the United States and Israel, apparently with Jordan's help, too, encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in a virtual civil war that began in the 1970s. There were training camps in Jordan and in Lebanon, supported by King Hussein and by the Israelis, with full knowledge of the United States, to train Muslim Brotherhood commandos to try to destabilize the Syrian regime. So the Muslim Brotherhood was a sort of an underground force that was roughly allied, to a significant degree, with America's allies in the Middle East. And the Syrian Civil War, the Lebanese Civil War, the Jordanian Black September Civil War, many of these conflicts that allrevolved around control of the Middle East and, in a larger sense, control of the Middle East oil resources, pit the United States against anything that looked like a nationalist force.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter, author of the new book, Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. We've talked about Hamas, which, as you point out, means “zeal”?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Yes, the words "Islamic Resistance Movement" form the letters that create Hamas, H.M.S., and Hamas, in turn, in Arabic means "zeal."

AMY GOODMAN: Let's turn now to another country very much in the news, and that's Iran. What about the role of the United States in fundamentalist Iran?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, you know, in researching my book, I found myself sitting at lunch one day next to an old gentleman. I asked him -- this was at an old retired C.I.A. officers' conference. And it turned out his name was John Waller. And John Waller, who died last year, was then in his eighties. And I spent several hours interviewing him later on. He was the first C.I.A. station chief in Iran, beginning in 1947, and he served there six years until he returned to Washington in 1953 to coordinate the coup d'etat against Mohammed Mosedeq, an Iranian nationalist, who had just nationalized Iran's oil industry. And, of course, that was the coup that restored the Shah of Iran to his throne after he had fled Iran.And Waller described to me how the United States reached out to a man named Ahmed Kashani, an ayatollah in Iran and the mentor of Ayatollah Khomeini, in fact. Kashani was then really the king of all Islam in Iran. He worked with an organization, an underground movement called the Devotees of Islam, which was an unofficial branch, again, of the Muslim Brotherhood, even though it was a Shiite organization and the Brotherhood is mostly Sunni. And so, in the 1953 coup d'etat, the United States paid money to Kashani and his religious forces, and they provided the demonstrators, who in turn went out into the streets, saying, "Down with Mosadeq! Bring back the Shah!"And ironically, one of the great ironies of this story was that Ayatollah Khomeini, himself, who later became the undisputed dictator of Iran in 1979, ‘81, well, Khomeini himself was in the street with his mentor, Kashani, saying, “Down with Mosedeq! Bring back the Shah!”

And so, while the Iranian Shiite religious fundamentalist movement was always suspicious of the Shah and certainly clashed with him repeatedly over the next 25 years, its prime enemy was communism and nationalism. And you even found, after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979, people like Zbigniew Brzezinski and our ambassador in Iraq now, Zalmay Khalilzad, both argued that Khomeini was a greater threat to the Soviet Union than to the United States and that Islam would destabilize Central Asia, would rouse the Muslims of the Central Asian Muslim republics.Now, that did not happen. But what did happen was that the United States supported the jihad in Afghanistan, and precisely on that theory that this jihad would not only get the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but would then spread across the border into the Soviet republics. Ironically, I guess,during all of this period, one little-known fact is that the neoconservatives in the 1980s, who were a minority force, not quite the dominant power they are now under the Bush administration, argued vociferously that the United States was wrong in tilting toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. They argued for a tilt in favor of Iran. And that's what led exactly to the Iran-Contra Affair, which had its roots in the neoconservative belief that the United States’ true partner in the Gulf was Iran, even though it was led by Khomeini. They felt that there were people there, Rafsanjani and others, that they could deal with. One of the things I report quite extensively in my book is that throughout the entire Iran-Iraq War, Israel provided significant and steady supply of weapons to Iran. From 1979, and especially after the war with Iraq began, in 1980, the Israelis would meet once a month in Geneva with an Iranian air force team, and the Iranians would give Israel a shopping list. And the Israelis then provided a steady supply of weapons to Iran during its war with Iraq.

This is somewhat acknowledged, but basically an unknown footnote to history. Yet it shows, I think, part of the underhanded way in which the Islamists have been seen from time to time as convenient partners, especially during the Cold War, of both the United States, the British and the Israelis, all of whom had their hand in supporting Islamists of one branch or another.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Dreyfuss, we're going to have to leave it there. We thank you very much for being with us and for writing the book. It's called Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.--

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Perils of Pauline

From breakfast in Belgrade....

SET to make £400,000 from a controversial defence deal which the National Audit Office has been asked to look into, a former Foreign Office intelligence chair and adviser to John Major, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones is off to Washington next month for a gathering of "security" and intelligence experts.

In a deal which could yield up to 800% profit for US arms equity group Carlyle, the government has agreed to the flotation of QinetiQ, the former Defence Establishment Research establishment in which it holds a 56 per cent stake. Carlyle bought a one third share of QinetiQ in March 2003, for £42 million. This is expected to be worth £341 million at flotation, if the company meets valuation hopes of £1.1 billion. Carlyle is expected to sell at least half its stake, potentially netting £170 million from the deal.


Dame Pauline, a close aide of Lord Hurd as Tory Foreign Secretary, became a BBC governor, and was chair of QinetiQ until September last year, when she was replaced by former General Motors and BP executive Sir John Chisholm. She has recently been appointed a security adviser to new Tory leader David Camerdon, but still looks to benefit from the Carlyle deal.

The Independent reported on January 15, 2006

Fresh QinetiQ bonanza: Cameron's adviser to make nearly £400,000
MPs round on £1.1bn listing of old MoD body, where US venture capitalist paid £42.4m for a one-third stake

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, who last week became a policy adviser to David Cameron, the new leader of the Conservative Party, is set to make around £400,000 from the controversial flotation of defence research group QinetiQ.

This is not the first time Dame Pauline has reaped rich rewards from the coincidence of her official appointments with controversial deal involving public assets and privatisers.

As Foreign Office political director and chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Pauline Neville-Jones stood with Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd for maintaining the arms embargo on Bosnia. The Foreign Office made sure the BBC always referred to the Bosnian people and their government as "the Muslims", implying the war was between three equally bloodthirsty warring ethnic factions, so that as Old Etonian Hurd said, lifting the embargo would only "create a level killing field".

Neville-Jones was senior British official at the Dayton peace negiotiations imposed on Bosnia. "Balkan experts remember her from Dayton as a 'very tough' negotiator who was continually pushing the Bosnians to accept the de facto partition of their nation". (Francis Wheen, Guardian, 4 September 1996). Slobodan Milosevic must have found the British representatives very helpful.

Three months after quitting the Foreign Office, Lord Hurd obtained a new job with NatWest Markets, investment arm of the National Westminster Bank, on a salary of £250,000 a year. He had no known qualifications or experience in finance, but he presumably knew a lot of people, and he had an enthusiastic helper - none other than Dame Pauline.

On July 24, 1996, the dynamic (some say dire) duo went for a "discreet breakfast" in Belgrade with Slobodan Milosevic. The Serb president had shifted much of his own loot via discreet banks in Cyprus and property deals, but his government was hard up, workers were clamouring for unpaid wages, and he needed to get the army ready for trouble at home as well as in Kosova.

NatWest agreed to prepare the Serbian post and telephone system, PTT, for privatisation -- for a fee of more than $10million. It also obtained a contract to advise the Milosevic government on debt management. It eyed up Serbia's electricity industry and oil for further privatisation.

Dame Pauline has pointed out that it was largely Italian and Greek money that went into the telecomms deal. (Last thing we heard Italian authorities were still probing the amounts involved) NatWest's role -and hers and Lord Hurd's -was purely advisory. But none the less remunerative.

Dame Pauline became a BBC international governor in January 1998. Her role came in for critical attention in 2004 when the Corporation was brought to heel after the Hutton report. Some blamed her for Greg Dyke's resignation as director general. It was revealed that besides her intelligence past, she held £50,000 shares in defence firm QinetiQ and had earned £133,000 the previous year as chairman.

....to dinner in Arlington, VA

So who will host Dame Pauline in the United States next month?
On February 17-20 she will be at the 2006 "Intelligence Summit", being held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia. Described as a "non-profit" (hence tax-free) "educational" forum, this is concerned with countering "terrorism", and threats to the security of the United States or its allies:

Homeland Security Session: Some of our allies have very different approaches to domestic security. What can we learn form Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Israel? This is a must session for law enforcement and first responders from the national, state and local levels of every free nation around the world.

I'd hazard a guess that their definition of what constitutes "terrorism" and threats to security will be fairly wide, but that it will not include attacks on Cuba, blowing up Cuban airliners, coup plots in Chile and Venezuela, Mossad and MI6 operations in the Middle East, or the fascist "strategy of tension" in Italy. And certainly not bombs dropped from a safe strategic height.

Dame Pauline's fellow participants will include former high-ranking US air force and army officers, and former CIA directors John Deutch and James Wooley. Also Steve Pomerantz, former director of "counterterrorism" for the FBI. Not to be confused with Cointelpro, the FBI's programme of domestic infiltration, disruption and assassinations which has been reinstated as part of "Homeland Security"?

Besides the obviously counter-revolutionary bias, there appears to be a more particular slant on the "Intelligence Summit" Among others billed to appear are Colonel Oded Shoham, Israel army reservist, and Yoram Hessel , "former senior Mossad officer"., along with Israeli-born Yousef Bosasky, now director of the Congress Task Force on Terrorism.

Presided over by journalist John Loftus, the Intelligence Summit is tip of an iceberg in which right wing US and Zionist "security" interests have been compacted, the offshoot of a body that was originally supposed to combat racism!.

Originally incorporated as the International Holocaust Education Center(3), after 9/11 IHEC rapidly expanded its educational mission from fighting racism to fighting terrorism, and is now known as the Intelligence and Homeland Security Education Center.

Now that's what I call hijacking!

To sample its real flavour, I had a look at an an article by another Intelligence Summit speaker, Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy, Published in 2004, and entitled "Blair's Palestine Problem", it perceives a dangerous influence in Downing Street:-

"However, the pressure put on Israel by the British premier Tony Blair and World Bank President James Wolfenson will only assist in the creation of an independent terrorist Palestine. Arafat’s replacement, Mahmoud Abbas, is widely perceived as being more pragmatic than his predecessor, especially since he keeps repeating his commitment to peace. But at the same time, like Arafat, he calls on the Palestinian people to "continue the struggle…to raise the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state."

Wow! If he really wants peace he should roll over on his back, tell his people to do likewise, and invite Kahane's mad followers from the 'States to tramp in over them. That might just almost satisfy the Ehrenfelds.

But Ehrenfeld's article does indicate where the Board of Deputies of British Jews gets its dafter ideas from. Referring to the Palestinian charity Interpal, which has since successfully sued the Board for linking it with terrorism, she wrote:

"Why does the Blair administration allow a HAMAS front to openly operate in the UK? After all, following US pressure, the European Union as well as the UK have outlawed HAMAS as a terrorist organization and prohibited the collection of money to assist terrorist organizations for any purpose, including civilian. Is the electoral support of the anti-Israeli lobby that crucial to the Blair administration staying in power?"
Blair;s Palestine Problem Dr. Rachel EhrenfeldFrontPageMagazine.com December 24, 2004 http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16411

What is this powerful "anti-Israel lobby"? How come we had not seen it? Could Ehrenfeld perchance be alluding not to the Foreign Office Arabist bogy of old, but to the "Muslim vote"?

The latest issue of FrontPage says:
"With Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections, the Islamist yearning to purge the world of Jews returns to the limelight. What causes this craving ...."

Don't know about any craving, but I can recognise a right-wing US-Zionist raving .....

I was going to say Dame Pauline, moving from breakfast in Belgrade to dinner in Arlington had come up in the world, but now I'm not so sure. Still, I suppose the money is still good. It has been at most stages in her career.

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Avnery views Hamas without hysteria

in Gush Shalom tee shirt,
at Bil'in.

ISRAELI peace campaigner, former Knesset member and journalist Uri Avnery was once speaking in Cambridge when someone asked him how he could justify talking with terrorists.

"Well, I used to be a terrorist,"
Avnery replied. "I belonged to a terrorist organisation. You may have heard of it. It was called Irgun Zvai Leumi".
To those who complained that Palestinian youths threw stones, Avneri recalled that in his youth he threw stones at British soldiers. He also reminded his audience that Irgun too blew up buildings and killed people. And this being 1983, he reminded them too that the Irgun had been commanded by a man called Menachem Begin, now prime minister of Israel.

A Palestinian called Issam Sartawi had been due to speak alongside Uri Avneri at that Cambridge meeting. They had spoken together previously in London. But Sartawi was assassinated in Lisbon, where he was representing the PLO at the Socialist International.
Afterwards we could read that yet another Palestinian moderate had been killed by one of Abu Nidal's gunmen. But before this, Shimon Peres and his allies had lobbied strenuously to prevent Sartawi being allowed to address the international congress. Uri Avnery had been condemned for having meetings with the "terrorist" Issam Sartawi.

On his 80th birthday last year Uri Avnery went to Bil'in, in the West Bank, where Palestinians were staging a peaceful protest against Israel's "security fence" which separates the villagers from their land. With them, and Israeli and international supporters, he scrambled to escape tear gas and rubber bullets with which the Israeli army answered peaceful protest.

He has returned to Bil'in since, when protestors set up an "outpost" across the occupier's side of the fence and lit Chanukka lights since, as he said, they were today's Maccabbees resisting oppression!

He was back in Bil'in a week ago, when Palestinians of all parties -Fatah, Democratic Front, and Hamas - joined the demonstration. As he wrote:

"IT WAS a colorful day in Bil'in. Political flags of many colors were fluttering in the brisk breeze, the vivid election posters and the colorful graffiti on the walls adding their bit. It was the biggest demonstration in the beleaguered village for a long time. This week, the protest against the Fence was interwoven with Palestinian electioneering.
I was happily marching along in the wintry sunshine, holding high the Gush Shalom emblem of the flags of Israel and Palestine side by side. We were approaching the line of armed soldiers that was waiting for us, when I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by the green flags of Hamas.
Ordinary Israelis would have been flabbergasted. What, the murderous terrorists marching in line with Israeli peace activists? Israelis marching, talking and joking with the potential suicide bombers? Impossible!
But it was quite natural. All the Palestinian parties took part in the demonstration, together with the Israeli and international activists. Together they ran away from the clouds of tear gas, broke together through the lines of soldiers, were beaten up together. The green flags of Hamas, the yellow of Fatah, the red of the Democratic Front and the blue-and-white of the Israeli flag on our emblems harmonized, as did the people who carried them.
In the end, many of us improvised a kind of protest concert. Standing along the iron security railing, Israelis and Palestinians together, we beat on it rhythmically with stones, producing something like an African tom-tom that could be heard for miles around. The Orthodox settlers in nearby Modiin-Illit must have wondered what it meant".

Avnery went on to consider what would happen if Hamas formed part of a Palestinian government, and argued that far from being an excuse to stop any negotiations, it would be all the more reason to open them.
Since the elections, he has said Hamas' victory was a success for Sharon and his backers. "Their message was that Israel only listens to force, and the Palestinian public believed them".
Of course he noted that the vote was also in many respects against Fatah and corruption, and that Hamas appeared willing to modify its more extreme stands if Israel made genuine peace concessions. As for the more hysterical reaction of Israeli leaders and their US backers ruling out any tallks with a Hamas-led authority, the octagenarian Avnery, veteran of Israel's 1948 "War of Independence" as well as decades of peace campaigning, writes:

"WHAT NOW? Well, a strong feeling of deja vu.
In the 70s and 80s, the Israeli government declared that it would never ever negotiate with the PLO. They are terrorists. They have a charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. Arafat is a monster, a second Hitler. So, never, never, never ---
In the end, after much bloodshed, Israel and the PLO recognized each other and the Oslo agreement was signed.
Now we are hearing the same tune again. Terrorists. Murderers. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel. We shall never never never negotiate with them.
All this is very welcome to Sharon's Kadima party, which openly calls for the unilateral annexation of territory ("Fixing the borders of Israel unilaterally"). It will help the Likud and the Labor party hawks whose mantra is "We have no partner for peace", meaning - to hell with peace.
Gradually, the tone will change. Both sides, and the Americans, too, will climb down from the tall tree. Hamas will state that it is ready for negotiations and find some religious basis for this. The Israeli government (probably headed by Ehud Olmert) will bow to reality and American pressure. Europe will forget its ridiculous slogans.
In the end, everybody will agree that a peace, in which Hamas is a partner, is better than a peace with Fatah alone.
Let's pray that not too much blood is spilled before that point is reached".

For some more comments on the Palestinian elections, articles by Avnery, and reports on Bil'in, see Gush Shalom - Israeli Peace Bloc

Also well worth looking at, my fellow blogger writing from Jerusalem,

Thursday, January 26, 2006

From Bermondsey to Bethnal Green

WELL, WELL. So Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Simon Hughes has told the Sun newspaper that he has had both homosexual and hetero-sexual affairs, and used a gay chat line service called Man Talk.

It seems odd considering that only recently he told other papers he wasn't gay. Most people would not regard the Murdoch-owned Sun or its reputedly well-connected Thatcherite political editor Trevor Kavanagh as a sympathetic audience for confession. Maybe Hughes feared they already had something and decided to come out before they "exposed" him. It seems there was some pressure there.

Hughes has usually had a good press, earning a reputation as a sound constituency MP, not afraid to stand up to central government or local gangsters. He needed round-the-clock protection in 1999 when a contract was taken out on him for persuading witnesses to testify in a murder case in Rotherhithe. His decision to speak about his private life may even help him now in the leadership contest.

But the immediate thought provoked by his gay admission will relate not to the Liberal Democrat contest now, but back to the election contest in which he won the Bermondsey seat in 1983.

The by-election then, occasioned by the retirement of right-wing Labourite and papal knight Bob Mellish, saw a vicious ant-gay campaign aimed at Labour's left-wing candidate, Peter Tatchell. Tabloid newspapers, alerted by the Labour Party machine's moves to disown Tatchell as a "loony leftie", dug out whatever they could about his activity with the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s. Even his arrest for leafletting at an East Berlin Youth Festival was treated as an outrageous scandal by the normally anti-communist press.

Indeed, reporters were sent to Tatchell's estate, instructed to literally dig for dirt. They delved in dustbins and rubbish chutes, and tried to get local children to say something they could use

Labour did not help, telling Tatchell to keep quiet about his sexuality, when he had previously declared himself "out", and scrapping tons of leaflets just because they had been printed by Cambridge Heath Press, which was linked with Militant. The cost of their printing was still counted against the limit on election spending.

Following newspaper attacks on Tatchell, hostile graffitti about him spread around the constituency, and people who put up his election posters had their windows attacked. Peter himself received hate mail, including a bullet in the post, and was attacked on the street. An anonymous leaflet showed Peter Tatchell and Queen Elizabeth II, asking "which Queen will you vote for?" It gave Tatchell's home address and 'phone number.

Meanwhile Southwark council leader John O'Grady, who had been Mellish's choice to 'inherit' the seat, stood as "Real Bermondsey Labour' with Mellish's support, and went round the seat in a horse and cart singing a song about Tatchell "wearing his trousers back to front". Since then it has claimed that Bob Mellish was either bi or gay.

As for the Liberals, they tried to play it both ways. Men canvassing for the Liberal Party were seen wearing badges saying "I have been kissed by Peter Tatchell" John Hen, who stayed with the continuing Liberal Party rather than joining the Liberal Democrats, said in 1997:

"As a member of the Liberal Gay Action Group which produced and wore the 'I have been kissed by Peter Tatchell' and 'I haven't been kissed by Peter Tatchell' badges, I think I should explain why the badges were produced and worn. (Although I wasn't there on the day that they were worn and had I been, mine would have read 'I wouldn't want to be kissed by Peter Tatchell').
We were furious at the way in which Peter was attempting to go back into the closet (something which he has since admitted was wrong). This was our protest".

If so, it rings ill with Simon Hughes' late confession.

Hughes has apologised for the actions of Liberals in the 1983 campaign:
"I regret that in a campaign, actually run often by agents and organisers, the candidate does not have nearly as much say as perhaps they should have, but I take responsibility". "I have never been comfortable about the whole of that campaign, as Peter knows, and I said that to him in the past . . . Where there were things that were inappropriate or wrong, I apologise for that."

More than a dozen candidates stood in the Bermondsey by-election, admittedly some no-hopers, but the Liberal's leaflet claiming it was between Tatchell and Hughes was headed "A STRAIGHT CHOICE"
Asked recently for his thoughts about the Liberal Democrat leadership contest after Mark Oaten stepped down over a gay prostitute scandal, Peter Tatchell hinted that Oaten was not the only gay in the Liberal Democrats.

Things have changed since 1983, and some MPs have come 'out' as gay without it noticeably damaging their chances. Simon Hughes may yet do well in his party's leadership contest.

Peter Tatchell, a member of the Green Party these days, is often at loggerheads with people on the Left who won't condemn homophobia or other reactionary features under some Middle Eastern regimes. He has fallen out with one-time ally Ken Livingstone over the mayor hosting a controversial Muslim cleric.

But a week before the Hughes revelation, Tatchell very graciously recommended the man who vanquished him in Bermondsey as the best person to lead the Liberal Democrats, saying "if I were a Lib Dem member, I would vote for Simon Hughes as party leader".

He says "let bygones be bygones". Maybe Hughes is not bad as bourgeois politicians go. But I can't imagine ever wanting to be, or vote for, a Liberal Democrat.


I went to two political events at the weekend (three if you include a Saturday night fundraiser in Willesden where a good time was had by all ). On Saturday afternoon I was among almsot 300 people who crammed into a hall at Friends House, Euston, to hear RMT union leader Bob Crow, Labour MP John McDonnel, former MP Dave Nellist and others talking about "The Crisis of Working Class Representation".
Most people who spoke in discussion said Labour was beyond repair, and we needed a new party. Then John Rees and Alex Callinicos, of the Socialist Workers Party told us that the Respect Coalition was up and running, it had an MP, and we just needed to make it bigger. Following this there was hearty applause when Brian Heron said we need leaders who are accountable and don't just go off and do their own thing.
Respect's one MP, George Galloway, was not there, nor at the vigil on Sunday at Stockwell for Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician murdered by police gunmen on a tube train. Jean Charles' family members spoke, Respect members had a stall, and a "Socialist Worker" seller took some stick over George Galloway.

(I caught a cold , and some photos, including some of another photographer, a big guy who seemed to be getting mug shots of everybody).

The Respect MP has spent the past few weeks in Channel Four's "reality" TV Big Brother show. As John Rees explained when he went in:
George Galloway has issued his own statement about appearing on Big Brother. In it he says he did it to raise money for a Palestinian charity, which he will, and to reach out to an audience turned off by conventional politics. Nevertheless lots of people feel that it's not an appropriate way for an MP to spend their time. People in their workplaces and communities say that many Respect supporters don't think that this was a good idea. We didn't know that George Galloway was going to go on the programme until 24 hours before it happened. We didn't agree with the idea, but by that stage the die was cast and the contract signed."

Nevertheless, Rees reassured his followers that "come May, people will not decide to vote Respect or New Labour on the basis of Big Brother". Notice that narrowed choice. What point us meeting to talk about the need for working class representation, when it's already been decided for us. You can either have Blair or that bloke off Big Brother!

As it was, Galloway was given little opportunity to "reach out" to anyone with politics. What did he expect? As "Socialist Worker" itself has said in the past, this TV programme is about voyeurism and humiliation. And the capitalist media are bound to use any opportunity to make a dissident MP or left-winger look a fool. The Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow got to play a cat lapping milk from a has-been actress' hands and to prance around in a red leotard. There must be other ways to raise money for charity!. Galloway's hard-working constituents were not amused Nor, I suspect, were the left-wing activists whom the SWP mobilised to canvas for him.

Yet, despite having no say in Galloway's decision to play the clown, the SWP/Respect spokespersons now are rallying to defend his "bravery". What next? Maybe Galloway and the SWP's Chris Banberry could emulate Delboy and Rodney and turn up as Batman and Robin for the election count?

It is no good pretending the only people pissed-off with Galloway's performance are Blair's New Labourites. Matter of fact the Respect MP's cavalier attirude to his duties has delighted them. Missing a transport debate on Crossrail to be on Big Brother was the least of it.

On November 2, Blair's government survived by one vote pushing through its "ant-terror" legislation, against an amendment that would have removed the proposed offence of "glorifying terror". One MP said it would have rendered him liable for prosecution for supporting the ANC, another (he must have been reading this blog) wondered if it would ban films about Robin Hood.

Among those Labour MPs voting against the government's attack on rights were not just left-wingers like Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and John McDonnel but Frank Dobson, Gwyneth Dunwoody and Kate Hoey. But Blair scraped through by one vote. One MP who might have been expected to vote against Blair's bill, who was returned to parliament to oppose the "war on terror" and attack on people's rights, was missing. George Galloway.

The Respect MP was 350 miles away in Cork on his one-man tour, An Audience With George Galloway, subtitled The Mother of All One Man Shows. "If I had known in advance that the government would get through an amendment by just one vote and if there were not a contract which would have meant losing thousands, I would have been there, although it would still have been a difficult amendment for me to vote for. I may be prosecuted under this bill. The amendment would only have made it less bad. I have to balance my time between parliament, the constituency and the duties I have as a national figure in Respect, as an international figure and as a fundraiser."

If Galloway was just one man, maybe his eccentric sense of priorities could be shrugged off. But Respect was built up around this one man, for this the SWP effectively liquidated the Socialist Alliance, and opposed the principle that socialist MPs should only take a workers' wage.
For this they tell trades unionist who are discussing what do with their political fund that we should rely on a one-man band. One remarked on Saturday that the ship had already left port. They should have checked who was at the helm, his charts, and its seaworthiness, before jumping on board.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"Ethnic Cleansing" in Essex

GRATTAN PUXON (in black suit)
at commemoration for victims of
genocide and racism.
On right Roma musicians and dancers from eastern Europe.

The conflict over Travellers who have settled in parts of Essex seems to be nearing a climax. It's some years now since government ministers, lifting the requirement on local authorities to provide Gypsy sites, told the Gypsies to buy land and set up their own sites.
Those who followed the advice have found themselves up against prejudice and hostility, denied planning permission and evicted from their own land.
Media coverage is usually slanted against them. At Dale Farm the Travellers, who include asphalters etc, laid out neat roads and parking spots for their modern caravans, but the press dubbed it a "shanty town".
National newspapers feature Gypsies along with asylum seekers as hate figures.
Evictions and persecution of Gypsies go virtually unreported. The anti-racist Left and labour movement have given them little attention or solidarity. On the official Holocaust memorial day the fate of Europe's Gyspsies is largely forgotten by those in charge of our "memories".

So here's the latest from Gypsy and Roma rights campaigners on the threat of bulldozers destroying family homes, "ethnic cleansing" -not in the Balkans or occupied Palestine, but here in England, in the county of Essex.

Ustiben report

A UK council voted last night (24 Jan) to carry out what is seen by many as a policy of ethnic-cleansing against Romanies and Travellers. Basildon district's key development committee, after a fierce four-hour debate, decided by four votes to one, with one abstention, to bulldoze the homes of some 1,000 Travellers living in the area.

Outside the meeting, pregnant mothers and children stood in sub-zero temperatures to hold a candle-lit vigil, hoping against the odds that the decision might go the other way. But cold-hearts prevailed as chairwoman Mrs S. Buckley, wife of Basildon's Tory leader, three times put to the vote first the destruction of Dale Farm, and then the smaller Hovefields and Five Acre Farm communities. All in the name of preserving the so-called greenbelt.

"This is ethnic-cleansing" Dale Farm spokesman Richard Sheridan told the meeting after the last count. "You have turned down every reasonable alternative and only want to get rid of us at all costs."

However, a new Labour Party member of the committee Sultan Nandanwar said he he was against the eviction operations. In his view it was unwise to proceed in this way while a judicial review of council policy was pending. Joe Jones, of National Gypsy and Traveller Affairs,said people around the world had now heard of Dale Farm. It had become an issue no longer about planning rules but about humanity and human rights. He said the costs of eviction, both for theTravellers and the council, were now far too high."I ask you to search your hearts and re-consider,"Jones ended.

Dale Farm resident Nora Gore, whose plea madea strong emotional impact on all those whose minds allowed, said as a diabetic since the age of nine she depended on constant medical supervision. In addition her father was chronically ill with heart disease."If you put us out on the road," she asked, "how are we to survive? This is a death sentence."

Spokesperson for the women of Dale Farm Kathleen McCarthy said no fewer than eight women were currently pregnant and, as it happened, all expecting their babies in March. Many small children were growing up in the security of their own community, but once again Basildon council hadcast a dark cloud over their future. "Why are ye picking on us?" asked MrsMcCarthy. "What have we ever done to you to deserve extermination?"

But when it came to voting time what was described as the biggest decision ever to come before the committee was resolved by a quick show of hands. Pleas to await the outcome of a proposal by UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to re-accommodate families at Pitsea were brushed aside as irrelevant. Grattan Puxon, of the new UK Forum, linked to the European Roma and Travellers Forum in Strasbourg,said the decision to evict contravened the latest Council of Europe recommendations on two vital points. The CE said no evictions should take place without an injunction from a judge and only when an acceptable alternative was being provided. "You have chosen to ignore these recommendations and in effect declared war on a section of your own residents," said Puxon.

"Worse than that, this has all the hallmarks of a racial conflict because you seem unable to bury your prejudices." A protest letter outlining the position of the ERTF from Kay Beard, UK Association of Gypsy Womenand UK delegate to Strasbourg, was circulated at themeeting.

To be presented to Basildon Council on Roma Nation Day
8 April, 2006.

We, the undersigned, condemn all acts of ethnic-cleansing and forceful removal being perpetuated against Roma and Travellers.But in particular we wish to draw attentionto the courageous stand being made by the residents of Dale Farm who, despite a vote by Basildon Council to destroy their homes, continue in the name of Travellers everywhere, their non-violent campaign to save their communityfrom the bulldozer. We call for common sense, reason and tolerance: leave Dale Farm alone.

To add your name just CLICK on Dale.farm@ntlworld.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Flying the Flag

GORDON BROWN, our long-standing Chancellor of the Exchequer, whom some newspapers inform us will move next door, "inheriting" the Prime Minister's job when Tony Blair has had enough, recently flew a kite for British "idenitity" and patriotism. (Who said it was the last refuge?)

Mr.Brown told a Fabian Society gathering that the Left should "embrace the Union flag". Well, we will need to wrap ourselves in something when the chill winds of recession start blowing, as they could well soon.

Some of us remember when Margaret Thatcher berated British Airways for not "flying the flag" on their tailfins. I remarked at the time that I had not heard her admonishing shipping companies this way.

A hundred years ago almost half the world's merchant ships sailed under the "Red Duster", as Britain's ensign is colloqially known, and UK ships carried more than 90 percent of the British Empire's trade, according to the ships' officers' union NUMAST.
"However the 1970s and 1980s witnessed catastrophic decline of the UK merchant fleet. The number of UK owned and registered ships slumped from more than 1,600 ships of 50m deadweight tonnes in 1975 to just 627 ships a decade later and only 253 ships, of 3.3m dwt by 1995.
"Today, UK flagged tonnage amounts to 0.3 per cent of the world total, Bahamas-flagged tankes carry more of our coastal trade than red ensign ships and there are more Filipino seafarers working on ships in UK waters than there are British officers and ratings.
Although the recent introduction of the tonnage tax and training scheme has delivered a welcome increase in the amount of tonnage under the UK flag, NUMAST is concerned that there are still big problems to be addressed."

The problem used to be of companies flying "flags of conveniance", that is registering in whatever port and country would cost them least in tax, and ennable them to employ the cheapest crews, with lowest conditions. But now, the officers' union says, there is a "very real danger of the red ensign becoming a flag of convenience. Unfortunately, it appears there is a ‘hands-off’ approach to the terms and conditions of foreign seafarers working under the UK register and NUMAST has become increasingly concerned at the failure to enforce acceptable social conditions on some of the ships being flagged-in."

The Rail Maritime and Transport union, RMT, says it is campaigning with maritime unions across Europe to end 'social dumping' in which unionised ferry crews are replaced with super-exploited, unorganised overseas labour employed on rates often below minimum-wage levels and working dangerously long hours.

The recent dispute at Irish Ferries brought the issue to widespread attention when the company tried to sack hundreds of seafarers and replace them with Eastern European agency workers on less than £3 an hour. RMT and the International Transport Federation recently held a protest in Wales against similar appalling practices by Swansea Cork Ferries.


As for British Airways, though it has restored the red, white and blue to its aircraft, it contracted out catering to an American-owned company, Gate Gourmet, part of Texas Pacific. This firm has been sacking workers at Heathrow - mainly Asian workers belonging to the Transport and General Workers Union - so it could employ cheaper, non-union migrant workers from eastern Europe. It gets away with this thanks to Tory laws which Labour has kept, outlawing workers taking solidarity action. Airport trades unionists who walked out in solidarity with the Gate Gourmet workers are being victimised.

Some directors have moved easily between boardrooms at BA and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Newspapers like Murdoch's Sun have always campaigned for people's right to fly the flag, along with supporting "Our Lads" (by sending them copies of the Sun) and denouncing "benefit scroungers", asylum-seekers and immigrants. About ten years ago, reporting how Israeli tax invesigators were pursuing a Murdoch-owned company, the Sunday Business noted that a Murdoch-owned firm near Heathrow which supplied TV controls to his BSkyB had paid no tax in the UK, since it reported a loss when selling its goods to the parent company.

Murdoch is a good example of capitalist internationalism. An Australian who became a US citizen so that he could acquire more US media interests, he has nevertheless found ways to keep his US tax bills down, while also making sure his media don't upset the Chinese authorities since he acquired interests in China. The Murdoch empire has more than 800 subsidiaries around the world, including 15 in the Cayman Islands and 14 in the British Virgin Islands.

In 1996 the Independent asked the Labour Party leadership, then in Opposition, what it planned to do about Murdoch's taxes, or lack of them. Gordon Brown, then Shadow Chancellor, had denounced 'fat cats' and promised they would be taxed 'fairly'. When asked about Murdoch's taxes, neither Brown nor any of his front-bench colleagues was available for comment. New Labour adviser Alistair Darling said it would be wrong to pick on an individual.

Old man Murdoch was on TV the other night, saying that though Britain remainsl too much a "Nanny State", and are taxes too high(as though he cares!) he still supports New Labour. Just as he once supported Margaret Thatcher.

Far from closing the doors on tax avoiders, the Inland Revenue has joined them. In 2002 it sold off 600 buildings to a company called Maperly, to which it pays rent. How much rent we can only guess, because contracts between government and private companies are confidential. Maperly in the UK claimed it made a loss, so didn't pay taxes. But the Inland Revenue's rent goes to Maperly Steps, in Bermuda. Meanwhile the Inland Revenue has been cutting jobs, and replacing permanent staff with short-term 'casuals'.

In the same week that Gordon Brown's call for more flags was exciting the chattering classes, the Blair government announced moves to force thousands of disabled people to look harder for jobs, or it will take away their benefits. BBC reports quoted a government figure of 2.7 million people claiming incapacity benfit (an exagerrated figure arrived at by adding all sorts of people on other benefits, such as those with terminal illnesses). A BBC social affairs correspondent Kim Catcheside said each person who stopped claiming the benefit saved the tax-payer £7,000.

Presumably so we can afford more bombs in Iraq. But the latest spin is that the government is trying to "help more people into work", and it is not about saving cash. Maybe not. A few years ago we had millions passed to the advertising industry for a campaign encouraging people to snoop and denounce their neighbours on benefit, as well as one telling us not to give money to beggars, who would spend it on drink and drugs (not unlike advertising company executives).

Now as well as cash incentives to doctors and local authorities to help take people off benefit, the government is reported to be inviting the "voluntary" sector and private firms to handle cases, deciding whether a claimant should lose their benfit for not going for an interview etc. It's an ill-wind that does not blow a nice earner for some. Obviously the private firms that move in are not in business for charity. Will they have financial incentives to reduce numbers on benefit?

One place some blind and disabled people have found work in the past has been on telephone switchboards, though the stress-making conditions in some call centres have produced other disabilities. But this work is increasingly being exported. Now a leaked document from the Department of Work and Pensions, obtained by the civil service union PCS, entitled "Offshoring Process", says:
"In line with the continuing need for government departments to reduce costs, proposals are being made by service providers to undertake work for or on behalf of the department overseas".

So the government which is so worried about "helping people into work" is planning to help thousands out of work by letting profit-making companies take the work wherever labour is cheapest. Job seekers, people on benefit, and those with child support problems will find themselves trying to explain themselves to an overworked and underpaid person on the other side of the world. It has already happened with some official data processing as well as commercial banks and services.

So, accepting that patriotism is strictly for us mugs on PAYE, we can watch our jobs and money go abroad, believe what the papers tell us and blame the immigrant workers for our problems, and wave more flags the less we have to wave them over. Or, we can take a leaf from the capitalists' book, and confront their free movement of capital with our own working class internationalism.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Let us use oil wealth for our people -Iraqi unions confront IMF

Iraqi trades unions have joined in issuing an important declaration, confronting the IMF and World Bank, and asserting the needs of their people for the wealth of their country to be in public hands, and used for reconstruction and the public good.

This joint statement is the more significant in that the unions involved represent workers in different parts of Iraq, from Basra in the south to Erbil in the north, Arabs and Kurds, and with varied political and religious/secular outlooks, but a shared working-class loyalty and popular aim - the wealth the working people produce should be under their control, for the people's good.

Amid the pontifications of warmongering statesmen and their tame hacks, and the cackle of reactionary warlords and collaborators competing to grab their spoils and fiefs, this is the voice of workers' unity that deserves to be heard.

We owe its translation and appearance to Lebanese socialist Gilbert Achcar, who sent it to friends in Iraq Occupation Focus, with the request it be circulated.

Dear Friends,

Below is an important joint statement of workers unions from all parts of Iraq. It was adopted yesterday at the end of a two-day seminar in Amman, Jordan.

Please circulate/post/print it as widely as possible.

Best,Gilbert A.

I'm happy to comply, and hope my own and other unions take notice and add our voice to that of the Iraqi brothers and sisters. We could learn from their spirit and attitude too.

Bearing in mind something oilworkers Hassan Juma'a said during his last visit to London, I'm wondering whether the unions' announcement that they are forming a permanent co-ordinating committee to make their positios known could be a prelude to forming a workers' party in Iraq?

Joint Statement Issued by the
Iraqi Trade Unions
concerning the Programs
of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Iraq

The Iraqi economy has been severely affected by decades of sanctions, wars and occupation. The Iraqi trade unions and federations believe in the capacity of the country with all its oil and mineral resources to provide a decent living standard for Iraqis.

The federations and unions consider that the wars and occupation have caused a dramatic decrease in the living and social standards of Iraqis and especially of workers. The federations and unions stress the importance of complete sovereignty for Iraq over its petroleum and natural resources so as to develop them in a way that assures a complete reconstruction of the country.

We wish to stress the following points in regard to the policies of the IMF and World Bank in Iraq:

1) Increasing transparency and additional representation for Iraq in the decision-making structures of the IFIs.

2) To stop imposing structural adjustment conditions for loans.

3) Agreeing to provide funding for public services and state-owned enterprises without demanding their privatization.

4) Canceling debts owed by Iraq that have resulted from the policies of the former regime.

5) Rejecting the reduction of spending on social services especially the elimination of government support for the food distribution system or the reduction of the number of items covered.

6) Strongly rejecting the privatization of publicly owned entities and especially of the oil, education, health, electricity, transportation and construction sectors.

7) Rejecting the increase in the price of petroleum products, considering the negative impact of the increase on the living standards of Iraqis.

8) Adopting a new labor law and a pension and social security lawthat assure workers' rights and are in conformity with internationallabor standards and human rights conventions. The World Bank and the IMF must also respect these standards The unions and federations that have signed this statement announce the formation of a permanent coordinating committee that will make its positions known to the Iraqi Government and to the IFIs. They also demand that the IFIs engage in dialogue, discussion and negotiations with the trade union federations regarding their policies in Iraq.

Finally, they request the assistance of international trade union organizations to provide all possible support to the above-mentioned demands.
(my emphasis added -C.P.)

(Signed)General Federation of Iraqi Workers

Oil Unions Federation in Iraq / Basra

Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq

Kurdistan General Workers Syndicate Union / Erbil

Iraqi Kurdistan Workers Syndicate Union

Amman, 16 January 2006

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Per Ardua ad Astra

Prompted by an item from socialist historians about anniversaries coming up this year, a letter in the Morning Star today reminded us that this is also the 60th anniversary of the demobilisation movement that swept through Royal Air Force stations in south Asia ("Indian armed forces strrike another date to remember", Morning Star letters, Tuesday January 17).

The men involved, many of them conscripted workers, some students whose studies had been interrupted, had served loyally in the war. Now they were fed up of poor conditions and 'bull', and anxious to get home to jobs, families, studies and careers. Back home the workers and returning services personnel had jubilantly elected Labour to office. But while families faced rationing and housing shortages, the Labour government was intent on maintaining imperial garrisons and bases, to confront the upsurge of independence struggles, and the Soviet Union too.

Whether we call it strikes, or mutinies, the forces unrest was indeed an important event in the history both of the British working class and by its effects, of the anti-colonial struggle in Asia. It is not one on which much has been written, though there was a Secret History programme on TV a few years ago, and there is a little book by David Duncan, published by the Socialist History Society, and now available online at:


Here's some extracts, about events at Drigh Road, Karachi, in January 1946:

Peacetime had not improved our living conditions. Most of us slept in large barrack blocks, with a table and a couple of chairs in the middle, and a bed and locker for each of the thirty or so men. Each bed had a wooden frame, ropes instead of springs, and posts on which mosquito nets could be hung. For a couple of hundred men, even this accommodation would have been a significant improvement. They still lived in tents, many ragged with age.
My friend, LAC Arthur Attwood, was one of those to whom home was a tent. "Each of the bell-tents," he noted, "perched on concrete plinths in rows, was the living quarters for up to six airmen, the sole furniture being a wooden locker and a bed criss-crossed with coarse twine ... The legs were usually stuck into cigarette tins filled with water, the idea being to defeat the ants. There was also a greased ball round the tent pole, placed to prevent the little insects dropping from the roof canvas on to the charpoys (beds). Both methods were useless.
"The geckos were more welcome squatters. During the evening, by the light of the hurricane lamps, they suspended themselves upside down on the roof canvas, camouflaged as dirty white tent canvas, and stayed rigid, with long tongues suddenly snaking out to claim a fly or mosquito."

Most of the men still worked long hours, some even longer than during the last few months of the war. And the food got even worse. The main course was usually a mush, ingredients unknown, and at one stage an important element of the main meal was the contents of a cardboard box - emergency rations obtained cheaply from the United States because they were no longer regarded by the Americans as good enough for their troops in the field.

"The war was over, had been over for five months. To the men, that meant it was time to go home. To the top brass of the Air Force, that meant it was time for peacetime discipline. Early in January came the crucial blow. Station Orders announced that on Saturday, 19th January, the whole station would parade in best blue uniform, and the parade would be followed by a kit inspection.
It was difficult to know whether it was the best blue parade or the kit inspection which had most impact. A kit inspection! That meant setting out all our equipment on the bed, with the blankets folded in a particular way, and the remainder of the kit arranged in regulation pattern, so that an NCO or an officer could see at a glance whether any item was missing. And, of course, everything had to be spotlessly clean and, wherever possible, polished. But we had thrown away the absurd Victorian helmets we had been issued with; most of us had long since eaten our emergency rations and lost or thrown away lots of other useless gear. And who could remember how it all had to be laid out? Yet disciplinary proceedings could be expected to follow if anyone’s kit was found to be deficient.
As for parading in best blue! Our dress usually consisted of an open-necked khaki shirt and equally lightweight shorts or trousers, with socks and sandals. It was too warm, even in January, for anything more. Being in best blue was something different. It meant wearing a tie, putting on a heavy woollen uniform of tunic and trousers - clothing designed for warmth in the British winter. And in preparation, buttons and footwear would have to be polished and trousers pressed.

As men waited on the parade ground for the Commanding Officer’s inspection, a number of them would faint from waiting in the heat. Any man not turned out to the officer’s satisfaction would be "put on a charge".
The story began to circulate that a meeting of the men would be held on the football field on the Thursday evening at seven thirty, by which time it would be dark. No one seemed to know who had called the meeting, but it soon became clear that most of the men intended to be there.
I turned up on the football field in good time and found there were hundreds there already. My guess was that well over half of the men attended, perhaps eight or nine hundred, but it was impossible to tell. It was dark, so dark that it was difficult even to recognise the man at one’s shoulder. Men were engaged in the usual chat and banter, waiting and wondering whether anything was going to happen. And then it did. Someone in the centre of the crowd called out - I remember the exact words - "You all know why we’re here." Everyone looked to where they thought the voice was coming from, and it continued, "Don’t look round. And don’t say anybody’s name". The man then added something about Saturday morning.
For a few seconds there was absolute silence, and then a great hubbub began. It was clear that whoever had called the meeting had no procedure in mind, no plan to propose, and apparently no intention of playing any further part in the proceedings. Men were obviously very angry about both the parade and the kit inspection, but the meeting was becoming chaotic as several men shouted against one another, some protesting about grievances, others suggesting different remedies.

At this point Arthur Attwood made himself heard. He intervened because, of all the hundreds there, he was the only one who had both the nous to know what to do and the guts to do it. His voice boomed out above all the others. I cannot remember his exact words, but he said, in effect, "We won’t get anywhere like this, lads. We need a chairman to see that there’s one speaker at a time. Does anyone object if I do the job?" There were murmurs of approval and no opposition, so Arthur took charge of the meeting. He saw to it that only one man spoke at a time; he gave to the meeting the gist of anything said by a speaker in too quiet a voice; and he made sure that everyone was aware of the issue before a vote was taken.

In his letter to the Star , John Merrett Bloom writes:
"In the secnd half of January, 1946, following an earlier four-day strike by some 2,000 airmen at Jodhpur, the mutiny spread to several dozen bases at Karachi, Kanpur and elsewhere, prior to moving to Singapore and Sri Lanka. All in all, some 50,000 military personnel were involved.

I've not yet seen much about the Jodhpur strike that set the ball rolling. It was reported that the authorities used Indian troops against the RAF men. But this must have been risky. As Bloom tells us:

"Hundreds of Indian troops came out in solidarity, inspiring a general strike across Mumbai in mid-February."

There was a mutiny in the Indian navy in February 1946, during which the sailors trained the four-inch guns of the warship Hindustan on the Bombay Yacht Club, before being shelled themselves by British artillery. I'd imagine events like that played some part in Britain's decision to quit India, along with the better-known civil disobediance. But perhaps we'll take a look at that next month - and it would be good to hear from people who know more about it.

"Ringleaders" like Arthur Attwood and Norris Cymbalist were thrown in the cells and faced courts martials for their part in the RAF mutiny, but a movement of solidarity in Britain agitated for their release. Arthur Attwood was a member of the Electrical Trades Union(ETU), and they were joined by the Amalgamated Engineering Union(AEU) in this campaign.

In 1993 I attended an Electrical and Plumbing Industrial Union (EPIU) conference in Manchester. A fit-looking old boy with a healthy outdoor look on his face joined our table for lunch, and someone introduced him:"You know Arthur? He's been doing a sponsored long-distance walk". (Now, let me see, it says in the book he was 31 when he was at Karachi, so... ) I forget whether his walk was coast-to-coast or the Pennine Way, for the Morning Star or the New Worker, I'm not too keen on the first, and heartily dislike the latter, but still, I was pleased to meet Arthur Attwood, and to see he made the distance.

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Friday, January 13, 2006



one word from us....!

THIS column would like to claim responsibility for striking a blow against the high commander of the faithful American evangelical crusader-imperialists.
Well, we did our bit.

We reported how right-wing US evangelist and presidential hopeful Pat Robertson, who backs Israeli expansionism and says Ariel Sharon was punished with a stroke for withdrawing settlers from Gaza, was planning to set up a "heritage" park in Galilee, on land given by the Israeli government.
(Theme Park for Armageddon. Januaty 8).


We noted Robertson’s call for the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and his suggestion that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was divine retribution. We warned that American evangelical fanatics believe in the "return" of all Jews to Israel, and their conversion, followed by Armageddon, a huge war, to bring the Second Coming.

Well, to be fair, lots of people were saying the same thing. But it was gratifying to note a large number of Israeli visitors to this site - as there was when we commented on the European Union’s decision to suppress a report on Jerusalem and the West Bank. This time we also got some visitors from places like Tennessee where they know about Pat Robertson.

And now a bit of news:-

Pat Robertson's mouth has cost him
his piece of the Holy Land.

Israel on Wednesday said it would go ahead with plans to build an evangelical Christian heritage center in northern Israel -- but without Robertson, after the Christian Coalition founder said Israeli leader Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for "dividing God's land."

"From our perspective, such a statement made for a person that is lying in a hospital bed is outrageous," Deputy Tourism Minister Rami Levy told CNN.
Robertson had led a group of evangelicals planning the $50 million center, a joint venture with the state of Israel. The facility is to be built along the Sea of Galilee, where Christians believe Jesus walked on water.

The ministry said its decision to cut ties with Robertson was directly related to his comments. However, Israel will still continue with the project, Levy said.
"Same joint venture, just the players are going to be changed," he said. (
Watch how Israel's decision curbs Robertson's plans -- 1:16)

Robertson had no immediate comment.
"We do not respond to media reports on our relationship with other governments, and we have not talked to the Israelis on this topic," his spokeswoman, Angell Watts, said Wednesday.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, said the controversy "is a blow to evangelical-Israeli relations -- and the situation is unfortunate." He said for the project to move forward, evangelical leaders "must exercise sensitivity and grace towards the people and leadership of the nation of Israel."

So, that's a lesson for them. You can call for assassination of South American leaders who have upset America, you can preach nuclear Armageddon, but just mind your Ps and Qs when you are reaching for buckshee real estate in Israel. The politicians have some sensitivity. Sort of. In an election year.

If this controversy really was a "blow to evangelical-Israeli relations", I do hope we have contributed. But it's just a beginning.

Unity in protest over attack on refugees

ARAB and Africans, accompanied by a small number of English people, took part in a demonstration at the Egyptian embassy in London on Friday, January 6, protesting at the security forces' assault on Sudanese refugees in Cairo on New Years Day which left more than two dozen dead and scores injured.
(Eye-witness in Cairo to brutality against refugees, Jan.4)

On a bleak cold day devout Muslims kneeled in Sabbath prayer at the start of the demonstration, but leaders stressed it was a demonstration for unity. "They found Bibles and Korans in the park where the people were attacked," an imam said.

It was also stressed that the demonstration was against the Egyptian govenment and not Egyptian people. The demonstrators chanted that Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was a murderer, and "down with Hosni Mubarak".

There were also placards against the Sudanese government and jamjaweed militia responsible for repression and massacres of people in the Dhafur region.

One African woman passing remonstrated with others that they should not be supporting Muslims "who are killing us". Sudanese women went to explain to her that this was for everybody against the killing and the governments responsible.

Lack of publicity (and lack of news coverage of the Egyptian massacre) may explain the small numbers on the demonstration, which was mounted at short notice, without clear identity for those organising it, and without support from organisations which might have been expected to participate. We may have our political doubts about some involved, but like the Sudanese women who came, we believe the issue of brutality and murder of refugees overrode any differences.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Someone is waiting for a letter from you

A friend has forwarded me a little Reuter's news story, here's extracts:

US says it opens some private mail in terrorism fight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials can open personal mail arriving from abroad as part of the fight against terrorism, and do so when they deem it necessary to protect the country, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said on Monday. News of the little-known practice follows revelations that the government approved eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without judicial oversight after the September 11 attacks, which sparked concern from civil liberties advocates and some lawmakers who called for congressional hearings.

Grant Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, drew attention to the policy after a letter he received from a colleague in the Philippines was opened and resealed by Customs and Border Protection, and only then sent on to him.He said he was shocked and amazed that the letter -- which he received last month from another retired history professor with whom he has corresponded for 50 years -- had been screened.

"It was a big surprise," Goodman told Reuters. "The public should know that this is being done. Nobody whom I know had any idea that this was going on. And as far as I know, it's never been announced. It's never been revealed that this is being done."


This story takes me back to a day almost 40 years ago when a young lad -let's call him Bob - walked into the south London premises of the Socialist Labour League (SLL), a Trotskyist organisation, and said "Do you know your mail is being intercepted?"

"Well, we suspect that sort of thing goes on", said an SLL organiser,
cautiously, "but it's difficult to prove it".

"But I know it's going on", insisted Bob "because I've been involved in it!"

Having obtained work as a postman, young Bob had found himself sent to Clapham sorting office, with a special duty. Each day the morning post for the SLL's headquarters was sorted into a separate bag, and put into a sealed packet, which postman Bob had to take up to King Edwards Building, St.Martin-le-Grand. There in the basement the mail was opened, and fed through a special machine which photographed the contents, before being resealed and sent back for delivery.

To make sure Bob did not stray from his path, a person in plain-clothes was assigned to follow him. While he was waiting at St.Martin le Grand he was amazed to see there were six of the mail photographing machines at work, so the SLL must have been only one of several organisations and individuals having their mail monitored in this way.

Satisfied that Bob was of sound mind and not making it up, the Socialist Labour League approached the government for an explanation, and decided to make the mail interception front-page news story for its weekly paper "The Newsletter". Questions were also asked in the House of Commons, interestingly by Eric Lubbock, MP, not a left-winger but Liberal member for Orpington, who went on to become a peer.

The upshot was the Labour government, in the shape of Postmaster General Edward Short, did not deny having the the League's mail opened, but said he did not have to give reasons for it. The SLL's Gerry Healy eventually said that if the authorities must interfere with the mail could they at least speed it up a bit, as he was tired of the post always coming two of three days late.

Bob the postman lost his job of course, and I believe he may even have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. What happened to him later I don't know.

One explanation suggested by whoever thinks up explanations for government conduct was that the security services feared the Trotskyites might be plotting some kind of disruption to Kosygin's visit to Britain in February 1967. Yeah right. Did they get that one from the KGB or think it up on their own, I wonder?

And what about those other machines opening other people's mail?

It's reassuring that some people in the United States still raise an eyebrow, if not take umbrage even, at unauthorised government snooping. In Britain we've got too used to shrugging our shoulders and pretending to be cynical while just accepting things.

One point to consider though. Have our rulers and masters really been panicked by terror attacks into taking abnormal measures, or has the "war on terror" just provided an excuse for doing more of what they've always done or wanted to do?

Freedom and Order in northern Iraq

There's a meeting tonight in Westminster hosted by Labour MP John McDonnel to discuss what's to be done about the British government sending people back to Iraq against their wishes.

On Saturday 19th November 2005, 15 Iraqi Kurds were forcibly deported from the United Kingdom. All of those removed were in Colnbrook camp at the time. A number of them said they were taken from Colnbrook and forced onto a bus and driven to an unknown airport.

Some alleged that they were beaten, put into handcuffs, and forced onto an aeroplane. That once they were secured, they were told that they were going back to a safe environment, they would be looked after, and they would be given a house. The plane made a stop-over at Cyprus, where the men say they were forced to change from their clothes into British army uniforms, including helmets and flak jackets. A second aeroplane took them to Arbil in Northern Iraq.

This sounds like something that wants looking into, as well as protesting, and though I can't make the meeting I'll try to keep in touch. Meanwhile, here's a not unrelated story from northern Iraq.

Kirkuk citizen’s group takes legal action against US troops and Iraqi police for Jan. 1 massacre

The League for Defending People's Demands in Kirkuk (LDPDK) has brought a lawsuit against the US military and the Iraqi police forces. We in the League accuse these forces of committing the massacre of January 1, 2006 after provoking people and opening fire on their peaceful march. The incident resulted in four deaths with many injured. A number of private homes and a considerable amount of property were damaged.

We take this legal action as a means of expressing our anger and condemnation at this revolting crime committed against defenseless people. We want those responsible for giving the order to open fire brought to justice.
We call on all freedom-loving people, human rights organizations, legal organizations and law experts in Iraq and worldwide to stand with us and support our campaign against the ongoing and blatant violations of human rights in Iraq.

We seek to prevent the oppressive American and governmental Iraqi forces from committing more crimes like this. We seek to compel them to respect the right of the people to demonstrate, strike, hold sit-ins and engage in other civil methods of protest and struggle to achieve their demands.
We call on all relatives and friends of the victims and those people who sustained damage as a result of this crime to contact us. We need a record of what you saw the US troops and the Iraqi police do.

The following is the text of the lawsuit lodged on January 4, 2006 in the Kirkuk Investigation Court.
For more information contact; Mohammad Aziz on 009647701325656 or Ramthan Saber on 009647701324181
Mohammed Aziz
League for Defending People's Demands in Kirkuk.
January 6, 2006
To the head of Kirkuk Investigation Court;
Re; Lodging a lawsuit
Dear Sir,
On January 1, 2006 the masses of people in Rahimawa, a suburb of the city of Kirkuk organized a peaceful demonstration against the huge rice of fuel prices. However due to the provocations by the US troops and Iraqi police the demonstration organized for fair demands turned violent and the US troops opened fire on demonstrators. We demand that you investigate this case, reveal the identity of those who opened fire on demonstrators and prosecute them and compensate the victims and their families. We will provide witnesses who incriminate the US troops and Iraqi police for committing this massacre.
Mohammed Aziz
League for Defending People's Demands in Kirkuk.

Supporters of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq have called a demonstration in London:

Join our protest outside the US embassy in London
Time: 12-2.30pm, Friday 13 January
On January 1, thousands of outraged people in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk demonstrated on the streets against their appalling living conditions, against the suffering caused by the US-backed Iraqi government’s failure to restore basic services and against a recent dramatic increase in the price of fuel.
Instead of responding by fulfilling the protesters’ basic needs, the US occupying forces fired on the unarmed demonstration, killing two people. Then, on January 4, Iraqi police fired on a demonstration of the unemployed, killing four protesters and injuring 40 others. Mass protests of this sort are the result of the chaos and social breakdown caused by three years of occupation.
The Worker-communist Party of Iraq stands wholeheartedly with the workers’ and people’s demands for a decent standard of living, as well as an end to the occupation.
Therefore we call on all labour movement, social justice and anti-war activists to join our protest in London in front of US embassy, or write letters of protest to the US government.
Worker-communist Party of Iraq (UK organisation)
The address of the US embassy is 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE.
The nearest Tube station is Bond Street on the Jubilee line

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